HR Problems PageFriday, December 3rd, 2010
Here we take our weekly look at answering some of the tricky HR questions we’ve been emailed. If you have a tricky HR question you needs answering email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll post the best here with an answer each week.
The word “reasonable” keeps cropping up in employment law. What is the definition of reasonable? How do I know if, in the eyes of the law, I have acted reasonably?
If you ask a group of strangers whether what you did was reasonable, and most say “yes”, then you acted reasonably. In court a judge does not consider what he or she would have done in the circumstance but rather what would most ordinary people, who can understand the situation, have done.
If you are stuck with an issue at work, are not sure whether what you propose to do is reasonable and do not have access to an expert, then have a word with a few colleagues who have no vested interest in the matter. Their response will tell you whether your proposed action is reasonable.
Using protective equipment
A couple of our machinists have to grind their tools on a grinding machine and the manufacturer and our own safety officer demand that they wear protective eyewear while they do so. However a couple of our employees refuse to wear the equipment, claiming that it interferes with their vision. What can we do?
You must insist that they wear protective eyewear. First check yourself whether the equipment you provide does in fact interfere with vision. If it does, throw it away because it is dangerous, and instead buy something more appropriate. It really is possible to buy eye protection that is safe, comfortable and does not impede clear vision. Then insist that you have solved the problem. If your employees still refuse to wear the protective equipment you must explain to them that they must, that if they continue to refuse you will discipline them and that if they continue to refuse you will dismiss them. If you allow them to operate that grinding machine without using the supplied safety eyewear, you could be prosecuted.